Business News

Liberty Mutual snaps up a Northern insurance firm

He was speaking after the Boston-based insurer yesterday sealed a deal to buy Hughes Insurance, a Northern Ireland-wide provider of motor, small business and home insurance.

The deal, which is expected to close in July 2015, will also gradually see Liberty become the lead underwriter of Hughes Insurance in Northern Ireland.

“Hughes is a top three player in Northern Ireland and this is part of our drive to become one of the three biggest insurers on the island of Ireland,” chief executive of Liberty Mutual in Ireland Patrick O’Brien said.

Staff at Hughes were briefed on the deal yesterday. Speaking in Belfast, Mr O’Brien said there are no plans for any jobs to be lost at Hughes or Liberty as a result of the deal.

Boston-based Liberty Mutual controls the former Quinn Insurance business, which it bought into originally in 2011.

The company has 1,800 staff in Ireland at sites in Cavan, Dublin, Enniskillen and Belfast – around 1,000 of them working directly in insurance.

The business has grown by 15pc so far this year compared to 10pc in 2013, Mr O’Brien said.

Growth this year has been boosted by an extra 10,000 customers buying van insurance following the collapse of Setanta, which specialised in insuring commercial vehicles.

Hughes Insurance has around 300 staff spread across its HQ in Newtownards, Co Down, and 11 branches.

Liberty does not operate a branch network. It has a small presence in the North but intends to retain the Hughes structure.

It distributes one in five motor insurance policies sold in the North and has a growing SME and commercial insurance book, according to Liberty.

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